A delegate presenting a paper at the Cato Street conference

Conference probes 1820 plot to assassinate UK government

A conference hosted by the Department of Journalism Studies has heard a range of fascinating viewpoints and new perspectives on a 19th-century plot to assassinate the British government.

The event, ‘Cato Street and the Revolutionary Tradition in Britain and Ireland’, was organised jointly by the department's Centre for the Study of Journalism and History and Marsh’s Library in Dublin. Over 12 and 13 September, speakers and delegates explored a variety of ideas surrounding both the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820 and broader concepts within studies of revolution and radicalism.

The conference was delighted to welcome three prestigious keynote speakers among its diverse collection of presenters. They were Professor Sophia McClennen of Penn State, Professor John Gardner of Anglia Ruskin, and Professor Malcolm Chase from the University of Leeds.

Talks from the trio – which dealt with the plot’s resonance in wider historical and international contexts – were complemented by panel presentations, as well as a thoroughly engaged audience who posed outstanding questions and helped create an exemplary and inclusive academic environment.

Sue Dowd travelled all the way from Australia to attend the conference due, in part, to her personal connection to Cato Street: she is a descendent of one of the conspirators, John Shaw Strange, who was transported to Australia as punishment

Diverse backgrounds

A closing statement from the conference's organising committee said: "We were particularly delighted with the response to the conference from audiences outside of traditional academia. This included audience members from diverse backgrounds such as historical fiction, public engagement, popular media and independent researchers.

"We were also delighted to welcome Sue Dowd, who had travelled all the way from Australia to attend the conference due, in part, to her personal connection to Cato Street: she is a descendent of one of the conspirators, John Shaw Strange, who was transported to Australia as punishment for his role in the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Lord Liverpool and his cabinet."

Anniversary publication

Following the success of the conference, the committee revealed interest from high-profile publishers in issuing a book based on the proceedings, to be published in 2020 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Cato Street Conspiracy.

The committee said: "This work, which already has interest from prestigious publishers, promises to be a comprehensive and exciting volume that will build and expand upon the excellent work of our keynotes, our panel presenters and our audience.

"We are very grateful for the work and input of everyone who was in attendance, and look forward to the future significance that this conference will take on as we move ever closer to the plot's anniversary in 2020."